Apparently there is some phenomenon going on on Facebook. Its called #WomanCrushWednesday (or #WCW). Well, today is Wednesday and this is a woman who has inspired me from the moment I started reading her book. Her name is Chrissie Wellington. She was a late bloomer into the sport of triathlon, as was I. She and I have a lot in common, and so she has inspired me and gives great hope and insight into triathlons and life.
Chrissie discusses her need to control, her need to self improve. I feel the same way, an anxious when not able to do so. When she was young, she had a modest sporting career, but impressive academics. Lets just say that my sports career left something to be desired but my grades got me the scholarships I needed to help finance college.
Chrissie dealt with the fear people of judging her negatively. She is a sensitive soul, always wanted to be liked. I've been struggling with that as well. She disliked the intraverted person she became, wanted to be energetic and confident, to light up a room when she walked into it. She tended to try to gain the approval and appreciation of others, which, in turn, reflects the lack of self confidence. Still working on this one, but (as I'll write about below) knowing what to judge yourself by, knowing your self worth standards, this puts it all into perspective.
Her obsession and concern about body image mirrors my internal struggle. Thankfully, due to a change in nutrition (adhering to a clean eating regimen) and the addition of world-class supplements, my body image has improved tremendously. I realize looks are NOT everything, but when you don't see in the mirror what you want to see, you are hard on yourself. I am still working on it to this day, but the positives are becoming more and more evident.
Chrissie also has difficulty being in the now, being present. I am always thinking about "what's next," planning my next step, always thinking ahead.
And then what really spoke to me was when she said, "All that hard work put in at school and [college] would be vindicated by a high-flying job that labeled me as being somebody." I graduated as valedictorian, went to college, graduated law school and passed the NYS Bar Exam. Being behind a desk was never something I wanted, but it seemed that was what was "expected" of someone with the level of education I received.
She writes about how she missed the sense of achievement that comes from working hard and the creativity and the learning; missed using her mind. I could not agree more. It's actually part of the reason I began reading more and writing. I feel that this allows me to hone my communication skills, to keep my mind sharp, rather than bombard it with useless visual media.
Chrissie is a sentimental gal. She has keepsakes and still has many of them, making reference to "still got them/that/it." She keeps things that, from an outsider's perspective, would seem minuscule. My mother would probably laugh, considering she knows how "sentimental" I am. Though my mother has been trying to instill in me that it's more about the memories and less about the "stuff."
What I love about Chrissie is her appreciation for the age-groupers, the "weekend warriors," the triathletes that do it for the love of the sport. She will celebrate her victory, but then go down to the finish line and volunteer to grace finishers with their coveted medals. She gets her inspiration from those who do it just because and it's not their job. Pretty cool to know that someone who is PAID to do what I love considers people like me an inspiration.
The fact that she appreciates the "normal triathlete" (who works full time, has a family, and other outside responsibilities), it just makes her so humble. This is a job for her, but it does not come easy for her. But she does not harp on her records, she emphasizes the hardships and hard work she engages in, the mental mind games. She writes about how she needs to be mentally tough too. It's encouraging to know that it's not easy for her, despite it looking like it is. In a previous post I mentioned that we are our own worst enemy, we can mentally defeat ourselves before the physical setbacks do so. To know that a professional struggles too, to make it so clear, evident, and out there, it gives me a sense of relief. She quotes Lance Armstrong, saying, "Pain is temporary: quitting lasts forever."
She continues, stating there will be ebbs and flows and hold onto the knowledge that you have been there before and come through it. Knowing you were there before, and came out on the other side, that's what will get you through this time.
She warns readers to not fall for external measures of worth, ie - the clock. Know that you gave it your all, and that will leave you with the greatest satisfaction. Do not be left wondering, "What if?" The limits she had set for herself disappeared and she crushed every goal she set for herself.
One day I would love to meet Chrissie, tell her how wonderful it is to know that I am not alone in these feelings; to feel vindicated and have my insecurities validated. It is amazing to know that someone as accomplished as someone who has won 13 Ironman races feels the same way someone who has the anxiety of completing one in her future.